If you live in Oregon or visited six years ago, you’ll probably remember where you were during the total solar eclipse of Aug. 21, 2017.
Many of us traveled to be in the “path of totality,” grabbed our protective eclipse glasses and brought a picnic to enjoy our viewing as a moment we, and our kids, could look back to as one of those times in the history of the Earth you just don’t forget.
Another astronomical event is on the horizon, this time an “annular solar eclipse” that will also be visible within a certain path that stretches throughout four regions of Oregon: parts of the Coast and the Willamette Valley, a tiny bit of Central Oregon and much of Southern Oregon.
“We’ll see the silhouette of the moon; a lot of people are amazed how the moon can cover the sun,” says Jim Todd, director of space education at OMSI in Portland. “The experience is awe-inspiring, beautiful, amazing, and right here in our own backyard — hopefully it will be clear.” While Todd is a lifelong educator, scientist and eclipse-chaser as well as president of the Rose City Astronomers, the eclipse is an event he encourages everyone to experience.
How can you see the eclipse? Why is it special? What else can you do on your trip? Here’s everything you need to know.
How is this different from the 2017 eclipse?
In 2017 the disc of the moon was bigger than the sun. That’s what created totality for 2 minutes. In October 2023 the disc of the moon will be smaller than the disc of the sun by about 5%, and people will be able to see the Ring of Fire for a full 4 minutes in the path of totality. The sky will get dark but not fully as dark as in 2017. Animals will get quieter and you’ll be able to see shadows of trees and other landscape elements.
Why is it called the Ring of Fire and what does ‘annular’ mean?
If you’re within the path of annular solar eclipse, you’ll get to see sun appear as a thin ring, almost but not completely eclipsed by the moon. Annularity happens when the moon is at its furthest point from the Earth and passes between the Earth and the sun. The moon essentially appears smaller than the sun, causing the visible ring of light around it.
How do I view the eclipse safely?
Wherever you are, make sure to protect your eyes while viewing with eclipse glasses (available for purchase at the OMSI Science Store), and follow these tips on how to view a solar eclipse safely. During the annular phase, the sun shines brightly enough to damage your eyes if you view it without a protective filter. Use only an approved solar filter that blocks dangerous ultraviolet and infrared radiation as well as visible light.
Where can I best view the eclipse?
The 2023 annular solar eclipse will be visible from Oregon to Texas, starting in Oregon shortly after 8 a.m. October 14, 2023 — with a partial eclipse before reaching annularity a little after 9 a.m. Visitors on the Oregon Coast will be the first in the U.S. to see it before it moves on a southeastward path across Oregon through Albany, Eugene, Springfield, Crater Lake National Park, Roseburg, Medford and Lakeview before continuing southeast. The eclipse will reach maximum coverage at 9:18 a.m. over the Eugene area, producing near-total darkness. The moon will then begin to clear the sun, completely restoring daylight at about 10:39 a.m.
Check out OMSI’s interactive map to click on any location and see eclipse animations, local times, and average cloud cover for conditions in your location.
What if I can’t view the eclipse in person?
OMSI will be broadcasting the annular eclipse live online. Check out their broadcast schedule and you can join in the global experience wherever you are. OMSI will also hold a viewing party on Oct. 14 for anyone in Portland who may want to see a partial view of the Ring of Fire.
Where in Southern and Central Oregon can I view the eclipse?
Southern and Central Oregon, with their vast, wide-open landscapes and little light pollution from city lights, are ideal for stargazing as well as eclipse viewing. In fact, much of Souhern Oregon comprises the majority of the largest and most pristine dark-sky zone in the contiguous United States.
Much of the action will be happening in the area around Crater Lake National Park and Klamath Falls, 40 miles south. You may want to book tickets to EclipseFest23 (Oct. 12-15, 2023) in the small town of Chiloquin, located between Crater Lake and Klamath Falls. This specially curated immersive experience is in the direct path of the annular eclipse with one of the longest viewing times, at over 4 minutes. The experience includes five days of camping; three days of food and drink vendors and artisans; family activities like bingo, a pie- and donut-eating contest, orchestrated stargazing, karaoke, dancing, outdoor activities and a live concert by ’90s rock band Smash Mouth. Purchase tickets here.
Outside of EclipseFest, Klamath Falls is a hot spot for birding, plentiful lodging and dining options and a flourishing downtown. Around Crater Lake there are many options for camping and lodging nearby. You can also book a solar eclipse tour at Crater Lake through Bend-based Wanderlust Tours, including naturalist-guided hikes and interpretation of the eclipse, transportation to and from Bend, lunch and snacks and eclipse-viewing glasses.
Outside of Crater Lake, spend some time getting to know Chiloquin, which offers legendary fly fishing, a family-favorite train museum, tons of local history and camping at Collier Memorial State Park.
East of Klamath County, the skies around Lakeview are among the most pristine, and Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge is an ideal spot to visit, with views of the Warner Valley. Primitive camping is available at the Hot Springs Campground. Nearby Lakeview also offers lodging. Summer Lake Wildlife Area is another choice spot for outstanding birding, and there are many options for camping and lodging. While you’re in the area don’t miss trips to the small towns of Silver Lake, Paisley and Plush.
Alternatively, you can make your basecamp in a larger Southern Oregon city like Roseburg or Medford (and fly into the Rogue Valley International Airport). Both are chock full of lodging options for all budgets, as well as lively downtowns with shops, restaurants and easy access to trails and parks for families. This is also the heart of the world-famous Rogue Valley Wine Country, with tasting rooms galore, both within the city and in rural areas with views, alpaca ranches and other countryside charms.
Looking for some great eats? Find the best local food and drink stops along the self-guided Rogue Valley Food Trail (Jacksonville, Medford, Grants Pass, Central Point, Ashland and nearby communities) and Great Umpqua Food Trail (Roseburg, Canyonville, Elkton, Reedsport and nearby communities). Both trails are perfect blueprints for any road trip through Southern Oregon, including great spots to spend an afternoon wine-tasting, visiting a farm store or lavender farm.
In Central Oregon (north of Crater Lake), Sunriver and La Pine are two communities in the direct path of the annular eclipse. Popular destinations like Sunriver Resort and camping at LaPine State Park will book fast. Head south and east, further into the direct path of the annular eclipse, for more lodging options and off-the-beaten-path adventures in smaller communities of the Oregon Outback.
Where in the Willamette Valley can I view the eclipse?
Parts of the Mid-Willamette Valley and South Willamette Valley are in the direct path of the annular eclipse, which is great news for lovers of food, farm and wine experiences along the Mid-Willamette Valley Food Trail and South Willamette Valley Food Trail.
Know that both Oregon State University in Corvallis and the University of Oregon in Eugene football teams are scheduled to play home games on Oct. 14, so lodging will fill up fast and you can expect more crowds around town. That said, both cities offer exciting downtown districts and easy access to nature in the forest and along the Willamette River. In Corvallis, immerse yourself in nature at William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge just south of town or book a campsite at nearby Alsea Falls Recreation Site. In Eugene, hit the trail at Mount Pisgah Arboretum and book an RV campsite at Armitage Park Campground. Consider flying into the Eugene Airport. Sample the culinary bounty of the Willamette Valley along the Corvallis Beer Trail or Eugene Ale Trail, both of which will take you into the surrounding communities like Springfield, Brownsville and Cottage Grove.
This region is also known for its unique farm-stay experiences. Look into booking a stay for a one-of-a-kind Oregon experience. Wherever you go in the Willamette Valley, enjoy responsibly indulging in the world-famous wine scene but consider taking a guided tour for the most hassle-free experience.
Where on the Oregon Coast can I view the eclipse?
Much of Oregon’s Central Coast and South Coast are in the direct path of the annular eclipse. Many of these areas tend to be less crowded, especially in the fall season. However it’s still best to book your lodging as soon as possible, since rooms will fill up during the eclipse. The coastal range may see more cloud cover in October, so it’s best to check the forecast as your trip gets closer.
On the Central Coast, the path starts just south of Lincoln City at Gleneden Beach — home to the flat, sandy beaches of Gleneden Beach State Recreation Site and the iconic Salishan Coastal Lodge. The coastline here, with a dramatic view of Cascade Head, is popular with surfers, seals and sea lions — make sure to keep your distance. Heading south, Depoe Bay and Newport are also some of the state’s most famous surfing and whale-watching spots. Excellent lodging along this stretch includes Channel House, SCP Depoe Bay, Inn at Nye Beach and more. Don’t miss Oregon State Parks’ Whale Watching Center and chance to eat at Local Ocean Seafoods and other spots along the Central Coast Food Trail.
Head further south to Seal Rock, Waldport, Yachats and Florence, where the rugged, small-town coastal vibes continue. From Waldport it’s easy to access the trails of the Siuslaw National Forest and catch a striking image of the Alsea Bay Bridge. Stay at Alsi Resort on the bay or camp at Beachside State Recreation Site. Yachats is a vibrant little town known for its art galleries, visitor-friendly shops and hiking trails. Book a luxury room at the Overleaf Lodge or a campsite at one of several campgrounds like Tillicum Beach Campground. Don’t miss dining at Yachats Brewing for top brewpub fare, Ona Restaurant & Lounge for fine dining and Luna Sea Fish House for fresh, local favorites.
Continue your journey south along the Coast to Reedsport, Winchester Bay and Lakeside — all extremely quiet, off-the-beaten path communities full of local charm as well as the world-famous home of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. You can sandboard, hike, paddle, ride an ATV, picnic, go birding or just marvel at the geology of this dramatic landscape formed by wind, water and time. Secure a campsite at William M. Tugman State Park and make sure to visit the Umpqua River Lighthouse.
The southernmost stretch of Oregon coastline in the direct path of the eclipse includes the sister cities of North Bend, Coos Bay and Charleston — nicknamed Oregon’s Adventure Coast. A great place to stay is The Mill Casino Hotel & RV Park, owned by the Coquille Indian Tribe. You’ll find bay-front rooms, an assortment of dining options, Vegas-style slot machines and other on-site entertainment. There’s no shortage of other lodging options as well. A vibrant downtown hosts a giant farmers market, art museum and history museum along with shops and bay-front eateries. The area is best known for its crown jewel, Shore Acres State Park — a great place to hike, picnic, visit the formal garden and storm-watch from designated viewpoints during high swells in the winter. Find camping at nearby Sunset Bay State Park.
About 20 miles south of Coos Bay is the lively town of Bandon, best known for epic sea stack views at Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint, world-class golfing at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort and destination-worthy cheese and ice cream at Face Rock Creamery. You’ll find many lodging options, including Bandon Inn, Inn at Face Rock and camping at Bullards Beach State Park.
To continue your Oregon coastal journey you can head south to the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, between Gold Beach and Brookings. While it’s outside of the direct path of the annular eclipse it’s among some of the most scenic views you’ll find anywhere on the planet.
What else can I do during my eclipse-watching road trip?
- Take a self-guided tour of nearby Oregon Food Trails for meals, snacks, gifts and farm-based experiences.
- The annular eclipse will be followed by a new moon, which makes for exceptional stargazing. Spend the evenings under the night sky at one of Oregon’s pristine dark-sky areas. (Read up for inspiration and tips for visiting.)
- Book a guided tour with one of Oregon’s expert local guides, from cycling to fishing, rafting to wine tasting and more.
What are some tips for the best eclipse-watching experience?
- Always wear your certified eclipse glasses for viewing.
- Keep pets at home since they may scare.
- Put your phone down and fully enjoy the moment.
- Instead of trying to capture images of the eclipse, capture shots of your family and of shadows and trees that may look different during the event.
- Book lodging and campgrounds early, since they will likely sell out ahead of time.
- Avoid highways and other popular attractions in the path of the eclipse if you want to avoid crowds.
- Check out viewing parties at many of Oregon’s wineries and campgrounds.
- Know that cell reception in many parts of Oregon is spotty; download maps ahead of time. Fuel up the car ahead of time and pack plenty of water and snacks for long drives.
- Do not trespass on private property.
- Be patient, kind and show your thanks with gratuity when visiting local restaurants and other businesses in Oregon’s communities.
- Treat communities and public spaces as your own — put trash where it belongs; clean up after pets and leave places better than you found them.
- Find free travel-planning resources and helpful, friendly staff at Oregon’s eight Welcome Centers.
Where can I learn more about the annular eclipse?
Here are recommended links by Jim Todd at OMSI:
- Eclipse 2023 on Eclipse2024.org
- Interactive Google Map